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August 31, 2009

New Consumer Protection Laws to Reform Debt Settlement Loan Modification and Mortgage Industries

Author: admin - Categories: Consumer Debt News, Credit Card Debt Articles, Debt Settlement News, Foreclosure Prevention, Predatory Lending, Published Debt Relief Articles

In an effort to curb fraud and eliminate scams, State and Federal regulators are moving swiftly to reform the mortgage, debt relief and loan modification industries.  As the Mortgage Reform and Anti-Predatory Lending Act continue to make their way through Congress, it is clear this potential mortgage lending and settlement legislation could be just the beginning of an onslaught of future regulatory reform lawmakers will use to help protect consumers even more aggressively. The bill would fundamentally change the home lending market, placing tighter restrictions on nonprime mortgage lending. Perhaps more importantly, it would require mortgage lenders to establish what the bill calls a “duty of care” in proving borrowers could repay a loan and that mortgage refinancing gave them a net tangible benefit.

At the same time, banking and mortgage industry regulators are feeling much more empowered under the Obama administration than they were during the previous one. More stringent regulatory exams, a rising number of enforcement actions and the growing number of financial institution closings during the first quarter of this year are evidence of this fact.

These new rules are very different from those of previous years that required a simple update to a loan document or disclosure. Instead, these changes will demand mortgage lenders change the way they do business, revising and improving operational and compliance risk management processes entirely.  The myriad of federal and state anti-predatory lending laws are one subset of consumer-focused regulatory requirements lenders must comply with, but they present some of the most confusing and complex compliance changes facing mortgage relief companies and lenders.

August 17, 2009

American Consumers Charged the Credit Card Debt

Author: admin - Categories: Book Reviews, Consumer Debt News, Credit Card Debt Articles, Credit Market Updates, Featured Editorial, Published Debt Relief Articles, credit counseling - Tags: , , , , , , ,

Richard Geisst, a Manhattan College finance professor and former investment banker published a new book, “Collateral Damaged: The Marketing of Consumer Debt to America.” In the book, Geisst traces America’s credit history and finds it riddled with sleepy regulators, congressional nit-wits and sinister financial firms making euphemistic lures to consumers. “A credit card offers $10,000 of credit, not debt. It has a friendlier ring,” he writes.

Consumer debt is at an all-time high, exceeding $2.5 trillion, or $8,000 per person, making it as American as apple pie and apparently equally tasty. But The Great American Debt Machine, as Geisst calls it, is hardly new. Sears established its consumer credit operation nearly 100 years ago, and automobiles have been sold “on time” since 1916. The American debt machine really began roaring in the ’20s, when consumer debt doubled. But fewer than 20% of the population bought anything on credit then.

Credit cards hit the scene with Charg-It after World War II, followed by Diners Club and American Express. Diners Club and American Express required payment in full, however, so their credit card holders couldn’t get in over their heads. Plastic as we know it began about 50 years ago, with Bank of America’s BankAmericard (now Visa) letting card holders finance purchases over time, paying interest on unpaid balances.

Geisst says there are several significant factors beginning in the 1980s played a major role creating the current financial chaos:

o •Variable-rate credit cards and adjustable-rate mortgages shifted credit risks from lenders to borrowers.

o •Financial firms gleefully packaged and traded their debt, making credit easier to obtain than at any other time in history.

o •The Tax Reform Act of 1986 abolished the deductibility of interest, except for mortgages, leading to a stampede toward home-equity loans, on which interest remains deductible, to finance credit card purchases.

In the ’90s, Geisst says, Congress and community activists encouraged excessive lending to low-income groups, expanding the subprime mortgage market. And a 1998 tax law increasing tax-free capital gains on residences to $500,000 per couple “proved to be an irresistible lure for those who thought they could flip their homes for a profit after two years.”

Debt cravings turned to crisis this decade, Geisst writes, as lenders packaged debts and cleared them off their books; regulators relied on bond rating companies to do their work; mortgage originations hit a record $4 trillion (over 13% were subprime also called bad credit mortgages); and bank card customers used plastic to pay for $4.34 trillion worth of purchases. “In order to achieve the American Dream, average American families were going into more debt given the low growth in incomes, factoring in inflation,” the author writes. But Geisst puts excessive blame on consumers without evidence of bad behavior. He maintains that large numbers of homeowners used home-equity loans to run up credit card charges, but he concedes that no statistics confirm this. And the author says the “average American has over 13 credit cards.” In truth, consumers have only about five cards on average, 42% of card holders don’t carry balances and about a quarter of Americans have no credit cards.

How to stop the insanity? Geisst calls for mandatory debt counseling for borrowers who pay only minimums on credit cards; tighter restrictions on tax-free residential capital gains, consumer credit and mortgage approvals; and new laws reinstating state usury ceilings, punishing predatory lenders and creating a Consumer Financial Protection Agency like the one the Obama administration has proposed. Government regulation may help stem America’s debt problems, but the recession will probably do even more to make consumers and lenders more cautious. Book Review and Article was written by Richard Eisenberg.

Credit Card Debt Charge Offs Rise

Author: admin - Categories: Consumer Debt News, Credit Market Updates, Published Debt Relief Articles - Tags: , , , ,

A recent article released new info that charged off credit card debt in the U.S. continues to rise for credit card companies like Capital One.  Most analysts believe that the credit crunch will continue as home foreclosures, delinquencies, charge-offs and debt settlement cases keep rising. Finance giant, Capital One reported that they charged off $524.9 million in U.S. credit card debt in July, which is equal to an annualized net charge off rate of 9.83%, the highest charge-off rate of the year. It is also up from June’s rate of 9.73%. Read the complete credit card news post >Credit Crunch and Tightened Home Financing